Dr. Perry Sanders served First Baptist for 47 years before retiring in 2006. He previously served churches in other Louisiana cities including Baton Rouge and Jennings.
Born in South Carolina, he came to Louisiana to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to his service to local churches, he served two terms as president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, also terms as Pastoral Advisor to the Louisiana Baptist Student Union and Louisiana Baptist Music Conference, both the Foreign and Home Mission Boards of the Southern Baptist Convention, and chaired the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Committees.
A frequent speaker at Baptist Conventions and Evangelistic Conferences nationwide, he brought the closing message to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1981.
Always supportive of civic activities, Sanders was a member of the Kiwanis Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a Division Chairman of the United Givers Fund, Board of Directors of Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Founding Board of Directors of Acadiana Arts Council, Founding Trustee of Leadership Lafayette, and was inducted into Acadiana's Living Legends.
A fan of UL sports, he often brought the invocation at Ragin Cajun basketball games. He enjoyed golf, hunting and fishing.
Under Sanders' pastorate, First Baptist implemented an aggressive outreach program and grew from 1,209 members to almost 5,000. The church expanded property and buildings to portions of seven city blocks, including the purchase of the former Mt. Carmel School property. In 2004 First Baptist completed construction of a 2,000 seat sanctuary. Under his leadership the congregation began television broadcasts, innovative music programs, and started language ministries including Chinese, Spanish and Deaf.